Healdsburg weighs limiting number of special events

Healdsburg has a problem that many towns would envy -- a growing number of special events and festivities that is causing a reassessment of whether to limit the number that can be held, or impose restrictions to handle traffic and parking overflow.

"We see really an explosion of special events in the downtown area," Assistant City Manager David Mickaelian told the City Council Monday night. "How many are too many?"

Councilman Tom Chambers, who suggested the city scrutinize its permitting and handling of special events, especially when they are held simultaneously, said that for the most part the city seems to handle them well.

"Why we're having this discussion is Healdsburg has been so successful," he said.

"It's a sign of a really healthy economy in Healdsburg. It's a good thing," added Councilman Shaun McCaffery.

Nevertheless, city officials suggested it was time to re-evaluate their policies after a particularly busy Saturday in late October when four special events downtown were held on the same day.

They included the farmers market, a half-marathon, a haunted house and a dog parade.

Assistant City Manager David Mickaelian said the events, all within a 500-yard radius of each other, created significant impacts to parking, traffic circulation and staff resources.

On Monday, the council agreed to set up a special event subcommittee to study the issue along with the Park and Recreation Commission.

In addition to reviewing the number and type of events, the city also will look at the impact serving alcohol has on city resources, because of an increase in the number of special events that request alcohol permits.

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